YouTube Adds to HD Viewing Options

YouTube expanded its high-definition viewing options for videos on the site today, the company announced in its blog.

Now if a viewer selects “Watch in HD” for any hi-def-enabled video, the video will immediately start playing in the wide-screen HD format.

The HD player launched earlier this month. Today’s announcement marks an expansion of the capabilities.

In addition, YouTube introduced new capabilities to its e-commerce tools already available in the United States, letting users in the United Kingdom now click from YouTube music videos to download songs from Apple’s iTunes store.


Nielsen Online: Web Video Users Are Day Clickers

During the traditional nine-to-five work week, 65 percent of online video viewers streamed at least one piece of content in October
Dec 17, 2008

-By Mike Shields

There’s more evidence to support the theory that daytime is the Internet’s prime time, at least when it comes to video, based on a new report issued by Nielsen Online.

During the traditional work week—i.e. Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.–65 percent of online video viewers streamed at least one piece of content in October, versus 51 percent of viewers who did so on weekends from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., according to Nielsen Online’s October VideoCensus report. That heavy concentration of at-work viewers is likely bolstered by the fact that 96 percent of those folks have access to broadband connections, found Nielsen.

Interestingly, the third most popular streaming daypart after weekdays and weekend days occurs Monday through Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., when Nielsen found that 49 percent of online viewers streamed at least one clip in October. That figure is perhaps indicative of users logging onto the Web to check out videos while stuck at work or those electing to stream videos during the evening prior to shifting their video consumption to TV. However, the traditional TV prime-time period of Monday through Friday 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. also rates high, as 43 percent of viewers watched video on the Web during that time.

Despite the heavy daytime penetration numbers, the overall universe of Web video viewers seems to have plateaued, based on Nielsen Online’s latest VideoCensus report, though the average user appears to be consuming longer videos online. In October, Nielsen found that the number of total viewers dipped slightly (from 124,023 million uniques in September to 120,711 million in October) and the total number of streams delivered was essentially flat versus the previous month. However, time spent per viewer climbed by 10 percent, going from 156.4 average minutes in September to 171.7 in October.

TV Gets New Email Marketing Tool Via Goodmail

A Silicon Valley company will soon give television networks and movie studios a compelling new marketing tool: the opportunity to insert video directly into emails. The platform from Goodmail Systems will allow email recipients to view a “Grey’s Anatomy” promo or movie trailer just as they open a message. Networks such as NBC and TBS are among those that send out electronic newsletters and could capitalize on the new Goodmail system. Programmers might also be able to sell advertising such as pre-rolls before videos or stand-alone spots.

Currently, due to safety issues involving Internet Service Providers (ISPs), marketers can’t embed video in the promotional newsletters and other emails they send out. The best they can do is offer a link for users to click through to watch video on another page.

Goodmail will begin distributing the system, known as Certified Video, early next year in partnership with AOL, Yahoo, Cox, Comcast and others. While it may be tailor-made for media companies, the platform can help marketers in all fields place ads or informational clips in emails.

So far, Goodmail CEO Peter Horan said a range of media clients have signed up for the 2009 service, including concert promoter Live Nation (which could insert clips of top artists like Madonna); a major cable news network; a leading newspaper increasingly offering Internet video; and a conglomerate with a group of broadcast and cable outlets.

“We think TV networks, programmers and movie studios are natural partners for Certified Video,” Horan said in an interview, after speaking at MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit this week.

While the AMC network is not yet a client, Horan offered a scenario where it could drive tune-in for hit series “Mad Men.” The show airs Sunday nights. On its Web site, AMC provides preview clips on Thursdays and recap videos on Mondays–both could be slotted into emails.

For programmers, there is also the potential to offer “DVD extra”-type content, such as behind-the-scenes or cutting-room-floor video. The Goodmail platform places no limit on the length of the video streams.

While it is unlikely from a consumer preference standpoint, programmers could weave full episodes of TV shows in emails. “I’m giving them the canvas, and they’ll paint the picture,” Horan said.

A benefit for marketers is that users don’t have to endure any load time–even if only a few seconds–that comes with clicking-through to another page for content. “Every time consumers are asked to take one more action and click onto a Web site, you lose some of them,” Horan said.

Under the system’s design, video starts playing as soon as an email is opened, but without audio. A consumer must then click a button to turn on the sound–a decision made to avoid senders appearing overly intrusive.

Goodmail is a provider of certified email services that verify the authenticity of emails. It looks to prevent pirates from sending messages that appear to be from legitimate companies that seek to obtain personal information. Some 600 clients in all fields have hired the company to protect them in the email arena.

Goodmail’s technology powers the Certified Video system by using coding to ensure ISPs allow video emails to pass through and wind up in a consumer inbox.

Several years ago, marketers had the ability to embed video in emails, but ISPs grew wary of spyware and virus downloaders. So they shut down the practice by blocking JavaScript functionality that allowed for the video.

Goodmail is backed by four private-equity firms and in November, raised $20 million in a new round of financing led by Bessemer Venture Partners.

Online Video Views Surge 45% YOY, Google Tops List

It’s business time Internet users watched a whopping 13.5 billion videos in October, an increase of 45% over October ’07, according to data from the comScore Video Metrix service.

Among video properties, Google had a record 100.5 million unique video viewers (up from 83.7 million in April), with each watching an average of 53.5 videos. (YouTube accounts for 98% of videos viewed on Google properties.)

Though Fox Interactive Media/MySpace (60.8 million), Yahoo (45.2 million), Microsoft (30.7 million), and Viacom Digital (25.7 million) completed the top 5 slots by unique viewers, Hulu surged to the No. 6 position, reaching 24.0 million unique viewers in October. This is the first time that Hulu has cracked the comScore top 10. (The most recent set of data is from July ’08.)

Hulu was sixth in terms of number of videos viewed in October, no small feat considering the duration of the average online video was 3 minutes, and Hulu’s average was 11.6 minutes. The site — a joint venture of NBC and Fox — features full-length broadcast TV programs.

Silicon Alley Insider attributes much of the boost in viewership from the wildly popular Tina Fey/Sarah Palin videos leading up to the election, and speculates whether those numbers waned in November.

Hulu’s overall market share is just 1.7%, comparable to the single-digit shares of all other sites in the top 10 excepting Google which took nearly 40% of the market, comScore said. In terms of ad revenue, it will likely equal YouTube’s before the second half of 2009 — even though the latter enjoys global reach, and Hulu is currently confined to the continent.

comScore rankings are based on video content sites and excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.

Online video

The Online Video Trajectory
A few years ago, video was taking its first baby steps online, with content owners unsure how, or if, they would be able to monetize their digital assets. Today, a vast market is developing around online video, with a U.S. audience expected to reach 190 million people by 2012-or 88% of the Internet user population. As content owners experiment with super-syndication for short-form media and transactional services for premium content, the question shifts from: “How do we monetize online video?” to: “How do we maximize its exposure?” To find out more about digital marketing and eMarketer’s report “Video Content: Harnessing a Mass Audience” click here.

The future of broadcast TV …3D Theatre?

NFL offers first live game broadcast in 3-D
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Associated Press
December 4, 2008 – LOS ANGELES – In broadcasting the world’s first live 3-D football game to theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Boston on Thursday evening, the NFL promises an “up close, personal, visceral” experience that could open a new revenue stream for the league.
The screenings for team owners, producers and journalists will use technology developed by 3ality Digital, a Burbank, Calif.-based company whose major investor is the family of Art Modell, owners of the Baltimore Ravens from 1996 to 2004.

“We are merely doing a test for our friends at the NFL to show them definitively that this digital 3-D technology is now,” said David Modell, 47, former Ravens president and chairman of 3ality. “This is not something we’re hoping will happen. This is now.”

Eight 3-D camera crews will sidle up to 2-D counterparts to catch the game between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers Thursday evening. The 2-D crews will work on behalf of the NFL Network, while the 3-D crews will work for the test broadcast, which will have its own commentators. 3-D viewers must don polarized lenses to see the action.

Attendees at the Boston screening are to include New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who leads the NFL Broadcasting Committee and will help shape how the league uses 3-D.

The New York screening will host Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, New York Giants co-owner John Mara, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, another broadcasting committee member.

“All this right now is an experiment,” said Howard Katz, the National Football League’s senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations. “It’s a proof of concept. We just want to get an idea of what our game would look like in 3-D. Anything beyond that is just speculation.”

A transition to regular broadcasts of 3-D sports events is not expected soon.

David Hill, the chief executive of Fox Sports Television Group, said at a 3-D entertainment conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday that equipment makers would have to fund a large-scale rollout of 3-D cameras for sports events because broadcasters are still paying for the conversion to high-definition.

“The people who make money off it are going to have to subsidize it,” Hill said. “I can’t see making a move into 3-D until a good fairy comes flapping into my office with a check.”

Despite the concern about costs, Fox Sports plans to do a 3-D broadcast itself of college football’s BCS National Championship on Jan. 8 to about 150 digital theaters nationwide. Details have yet to be worked out, said Fox Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio.

By the end of 2008, an estimated 2 million U.S. TV sets will be capable of handling 3-D signals, about 2 percent of the nation’s estimated 114.5 million TV homes.

Katz said the NFL is not exploring making theater broadcasts regularly available in the way that documentary filmmakers and concert promoters have increasingly been offering their material at digital theaters.

“It’s not an alternative we’re currently contemplating,” Katz said. “We’re very committed to the free, over-the-air distribution of our games.”

An experiment last year with live 3-D broadcasts involved Pace, a company founded by director James Cameron and his partner Vince Pace. They showed VIP guests a live 3-D transmission of the NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas and followed up with a 3-D transmission of Game 2 of the NBA finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also hosted a 3-D transmission of a game between the Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs at theaters in Dallas in March.

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